Rural Montana Magazine - November 2013 - page 5

hen Mark
Johnson was
growing up in Great
Falls, he never envi-
sioned a future in the
electric industry.
“After working at
an accounting firm
for several years, I
was hired as Flathead
Electric’s Finance Director in
1999. I didn’t know exactly
what the industry would
entail, but I knew right away
that this was a great place to
be. I’m proud to be a part of
the Cooperative and appreci-
ate the support I’ve received
from the Board of Trustees
and staff.”
Johnson assumes the posi-
tion of general manager as of
November 1, after serving
eight-years as assistant gen-
eral manager. Retiring gener-
al manager Ken Sugden, said
this was a natural
progression for
Johnson, and is con-
tent to pass the baton.
“Mark knows the ins
and outs of the elec-
tric utility business,
and is keenly aware
of the challenges
ahead. He’s very
involved in all aspects of the
industry and serves on sever-
al state and national boards
to keep informed on power
supply, technology and regu-
latory issues impacting
Flathead Electric.”
“I enjoy being part of a
people-based organization,”
Johnson said. “I may not
have started out in this busi-
ness, but I sure appreciate all
the fortuitous bounces that
led me here to Flathead
ictured here is a portion
of the transmission poles
installed to complete the
intended target of the
Bainville area and ending at
Sheridan Electric
Cooperative’s Alkabo substa-
tion. The project also includ-
ed the new Redbank substa-
tion located near Froid, and
the Snake Butte substation
located north of Bainville.
The size of the poles are
interesting, as we see 75-foot
poles coming into our area,
versus the 35-foot poles used
for distribution. Project
Manager John Nickisch
indicates that 100-foot poles
are now a part of this new
Meetings were held with
the contractors to start por-
tions of the project in August.
ore than 230 members
of Montana’s electric
cooperatives gathered at the
Montana Electric Cooper-
atives’ Association’s 52nd
annual meeting in Great Falls
in early October to conduct
committee and board meet-
ings, hear from Gov. Steve
Bullock, and listen to two
statewide association leaders
talk about how their co-ops
have responded in the face of
impending federal regulation
of carbon emissions. Another
highlight of the annual meet-
ing was a legislative panel
consisting of Sen. Cliff
Larsen, D-Missoula, chair-
man of the Energy and
Telecommunications Interim
Committee, and Rep. Keith
Regier, R-Kalispell, who also
serves on the interim commit-
tee and was chairman of the
House energy committee dur-
ing the 2013 legislative ses-
sion. Both legislators listed a
variety of legislative issues,
including the interim commit-
tee’s study of Montana’s state
law on the purchase of
renewable energy.
Gov. Bullock opened his
remarks by talking about one
of the most pressing issues
on the minds of many
Montana electric coopera-
tives these days: potential
listing of the sage grouse as a
federal endangered species.
He explained the current
process underway for the
development of a state plan
aimed at trying to help avoid
the drastic economic impacts
of a listing. Noting that
Montana is about two years
behind other Western states
in developing a state plan, he
said the timeframe for action
is short, but that he’s confi-
dent it can be accomplished.
“We don’t run from chal-
lenges,” he said.
He concluded his remarks
by offering a word of encour-
agement regarding his desire
to work with electric cooper-
atives on various issues. “We
might have differing views,”
on some issues, said Gov.
Bullock. “But I believe if we
sit down and talk, many of
those differences will fade
In other annual meeting
news, Brent McCrae, a direc-
tor at McCone Electric
Cooperative, was elected
president of the MECA
Poles delivered to Sheridan Electric Cooperative’s yards
range from 75- to 100-feet long with accompanying
Mark Johnson
Gov. Steve Bullock address the 52nd annual meeting of the
Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association in early October.
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